A former Aberdeen City Council spin doctor received a pay-off of more than £63,000, the Evening Express can reveal today.
Figures show Takki Sulaiman, the local authority’s former head of communications and promotion, received a total of £63,488 in compensation after losing his job in May 2017.
He had been in the post for two-and-a-half years.
The figures, released by the Taxpayers Alliance, also show Mr Sulaiman – who was known as the “happiness tsar” – received a salary of £80,697 for the 2016/17 financial year – a total cost to the taxpayer of £144,185, excluding pension contributions.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers Alliance, said: “Aberdeen taxpayers should be furious at Mr Sulaiman’s £63,000 pay-off, equivalent to almost 80% of his salary in 2016-17.
“Local authorities do not need an army of overpaid press officers.
“Aberdeen City Council should spend taxpayers’ money on residents, not massaging their image.”
The former Labour councillor worked in communications for the scandal-hit Tower Hamlets Council in London before being announced as the preferred candidate for the Granite City job in November 2014.
At the time the appointment was criticised by opposition SNP and Liberal Democrats over Mr Sulaiman’s previous role as a Labour councillor for Haringey.
Then-SNP group leader Callum McCaig called for the appointment process to be halted pending an inquiry, claiming Mr Sulaiman’s CV did not mention the Labour role and members of the panel that gave him the job were not informed.
The then-finance convener, Labour’s Willie Young, insisted the authority’s human resources team had been told.
Current SNP group leader Stephen Flynn today hit out at the pay-off.
He said: “The administration were told that the council did not need a spin doctor but they pushed ahead and the cost, borne by the people of Aberdeen, is eye-watering.
“Their recklessness when it comes to spending public money knows no bounds and this failed spin doctor experiment is sadly just the tip of the iceberg.”
Aberdeen City Council co-leader, Labour’s Jenny Laing, said: “It appears Councillor Flynn has a short memory as his budget for 2016-17 included the revenue savings for the deletion of Mr Suliman’s post.
“Although Mr Suliman’s stay with the council was short he did help create the successful 365 project which has brought forward the Great Aberdeen Run, Tour Cycle race and Nuart which have all contributed to the cultural offering of Aberdeen.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “Mr Sulaiman’s payment was based on contractual and statutory entitlements.
“We cannot comment further on what is an individual staffing matter.”
A total of seven individuals at the local authority – including Mr Sulaiman – received total remuneration of more than £100,000.
Mr Sulaiman, who now runs a self-catering property on the shores of Loch Awe on the west coast, did not respond to the Evening Express’ requests for comment.